Scotland centre Sam Johnson believes that his side will have to put as much pressure as possible on the Irish half-back line and disrupt their rhythm if they are to cause an upset in their Pool A opener on Sunday.
Ireland go into the game as the number 1 ranked team in the world, claiming that title after victory in their last warm-up game against Wales a fortnight ago.
Joe Schmidt’s side will be without Leinster centre Robbie Henshaw for Sunday’s game but the pairing of Rob Kearney and Keith Earls have been passed fit.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, the Glasgow Warriors man outlined that although the challenge of Ireland will undoubtedly be a tough one, the conditions in Yokohama – which look set to be difficult – may level the playing field.
“You have got to look at the top. We are aware of the challenge ahead of us with Ireland this weekend, so we are just focusing on that game.
“They are No.1 in the world, but we are confident. They have got a few injuries, but they are going to replace that with real quality as well.
“We are in a different country, so that levels out the playing field. We will see what the conditions are like. The forecast is rain. Whoever rocks up the best and is ready to play will come out on top.”
Schmidt will have supreme confidence in his world class half-back line of Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton and their ability to control the kicking game.
Johnson feels that Ireland will be typically strong in that area, and that his side will have to put pressure on the duo and attempt to disrupt their play if they are to find success on Sunday.
“Their kicking game is going to be a huge strength for them, especially with the weather, if it is going to be wet. We have just got to put as much pressure on their half-back pairing of (Conor) Murray and (Johnny) Sexton (as possible.)
“They are world-class players. We will deal with the threats in front of us and have a crack.”
The last time the pair clashed, Ireland were victorious in Murrayfield by 22-13 despite a disappointing tournament overall for Schmidt’s charges.
Johnson scored his first try for Scotland in the Six Nations clash, but what did the 26-year-old learn from the defeat in February?
“They are such a physical team. A lot of their work comes off Murray. Sexton orchestrates it from behind. We are expecting a hugely physical encounter, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the flair out wide to break you on the edges.
“The weather might dictate terms of play, but we are definitely expecting a high level of physicality.”